The pomegranate is a fruit-bearing deciduous tree that grows up to approximately 6m tall. Originally grown in Northern India to Iran, much of the world’s pomegranate is now mainly grown in America, Spain, the Middle East and India.
The pomegranate has a round shape, much like an apple, with a hard, shiny red or yellow skin. Inside, scores of edible little white seeds are held in jewel-like, ruby-coloured sacs filled with sweet, juicy flesh. The sacs themselves are packed in a bitter, pale yellow pith, which should not be eaten.
Pomegranates and nutrition
Pomegranates have always been highly prized for flavour, but their recent emergence as a highly nutritious ‘superfood’, packed with antioxidants and vitamins, has made them even more popular.
Pomegranate seeds are an excellent source of dietary fibre which is entirely contained in the edible seeds. There are significant nutritional benefits conveyed by the seeds, their fibre and micronutrients, to the extent that in 2015, 60 clinical trials were registered with the National Institute of Health to examine effects of pomegranate extracts or juice consumption on a variety of human disorders.
Preparing a pomegranate
To prepare, cut the pomegranate open across the middle. Whilst holding one half over an empty bowl, bash the skin with a wooden spoon. The seeds will pop out quite easily. Alternatively, separating the seeds is easier in a bowl of water because the seeds sink and the inedible pulp floats. Be careful when preparing pomegranates—the juice stains!
To extract the juice, put the seeds in a sieve and press out the juice with the back of a spoon. Avoid crushing the sac membranes too much as they can taste bitter.
The seeds of the pomegranate fruit are sweet, juicy and bursting with flavour. They can be included within both savoury and dessert style foods and add a unique and tantalising flavour to any dish. Pomegranate seeds are often found scattered over salads, included with fresh-cut fruit displays, and used in marinades or rice dishes.
Check out our Winter Mess recipe